Pictured below: From left to right, Bean Voyage is Sohrab Amiri '16, Victor Zuniga ’17, Sunghee Tark ’16, Abhinav Khanal ’16 and Bryan Tipton '16.
New business venture by Earlhamites promotes greater market accessibility for Costa Rican coffee farmers
July 19, 2016
A new business venture by Earlhamites aims to collaborate with smallholder coffee farmers in Costa Rica to achieve their vision by facilitating greater market accessibility for their products.
Bean Voyage ships roasted coffee directly to its customers creating a greater connection between the consumers and the producers ensuring that a larger percentage of revenue can be returned to the farming communities who harvest coffee.
“Instead of the coffee having to travel from the farmer, to the cooperative, then exporter, and the commercial roaster, finally landing in the hands of the customers, Bean Voyage ensures that the coffee is directly reaching from the hands of the producers to the lips of the consumers.” says Sohrab Amiri ‘16.
The company launched in February as a joint venture between Amiri, Abhinav Khanal ’16, Sunghee Tark ’16, Bryan Tipton ’16 and Victor Zuniga ’17.
The idea took root while Amiri and Khanal were studying abroad in Spain and discussing ways to positively impact the world. Fittingly, their conversations were usually over coffee.
“While at Earlham, we had numerous opportunities to be involved in student leadership and activism,” Amiri says. “But we wanted to channel the energy towards doing something that can lead to sustainable development, while working in collaboration with local communities.”
As part of the launch, the team travelled to four different regions of Costa Rica this summer to establish relationships with smallholder farmers and begin sourcing coffee from the country. Smallholder farmers typically own small plots of land on which they grow one or two cash crops and rely almost exclusively on family labor. During the trips, the team was also able to learn more about the challenges facing smallholder farmers at the expense of larger cooperatives and coffee corporations, which currently process and distribute their products.
The team hopes to work with as many as seven smallholder farmers in its first year of operation, offering a wide range of coffee types and a variety of processing methods. The farms have a strong presence of women in the farming and management process, and no presence of child labor in the farms.
Pre-sale orders are being accepted now at www.beanvoyage.com. Orders will ship by September.
“We are humbled by the support and hospitality shown toward our project by the various communities that we have visited,” Amiri says. “Each farmer has welcomed the idea and are excited by the fact that our project is able to provide them with an income that is three times what they are currently receiving from cooperatives or larger corporations. We hope to do justice to their hard work by sharing their stories and raising awareness about the injustice that exists in the coffee industry.”
“This isn’t just about coffee,” Amiri says. “This is about advocating for fairer prices and supporting smallholder farmers to be the stewards of their own vision.”
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Earlham College, a national liberal arts college located in Richmond, Indiana, is a "College That Changes Lives." We expect our students to be fully present: to think rigorously, value directness and genuineness, and actively seek insights from differing perspectives. The values we practice at Earlham are rooted in centuries of Quaker tradition, but they also constitute the ideal toolkit for contemporary success. Earlham is one of only 40 national liberal arts colleges ranked among U.S. News and World Reports' "Great Schools at a Great Price."
Brian Zimmerman is director of media relations at Earlham College. He can be reached at 765-983-1256 and firstname.lastname@example.org.